Monday, 27 December 2010

This Week's Picks (#25)

The next several series of This Week's Picks are inspired by an often overlooked important aspect of music: the visual. Music is almost always accompanied by costumes, dress, dance, makeup, and/or theatre. The visual can be as simple as a pair of shades on a blues singer or as elaborate as the grand performances of Japanese kabuki theatre.

Last week, we featured dance music. This week, our picks will focus on costume and dress. Please enjoy!

American Style Tribal Bellydance

While this could have been posted in last week's feature on dance, it fits perfectly in the costume/dress category. This is a recent form of dance, developed in California in the 1980s. It takes its inspiration from numerous dance and music styles including Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Spanish, Indian, and Balkan. The costumes aim to reflect the dance's diverse backgrounds. The dancers improvise in groups to music inspired by the same variety of cultures. They wear an elaborate collection of head-wear, jewelery and costuming representing these different cultures. The result is an entertaining and beautiful display of cultural harmony.

African Desert Blues

It is easy for a certain dress or style to become associated with a genre of music. Desert blues, for example, conjures images of light, flowing robes and howli head scarfs. While this may be the traditional Touareg style of dress, it becomes associated with the music the moment artists begin traveling and bringing their music to other cultures. Thus, groups like Tinariwen, rock out in full desert dress and a concert would not be the same without that accompanying visual.


In other situations, the choice of dress may be a conscious decision. AfroCubism is a collaboration of musicians from Cuba and Mali. When seen in a live performance, like the above video, you can easily spot the Cuban musicians from the Malian musicians based on their choice of dress. In this case, the choice of dress is an reaffirmation of culture and background that highlights the collaboration between two different musical genres that are elegantly compatible.

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